In IPA Francophone West Africa, we have been truthful to our global tradition of rigorous, applicable research by building foundational research capacity and generating evidence to reduce poverty and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Examples of our work below offer promising insights into critical issues that affect the lives of the most vulnerable.
À IPA Afrique de l’Ouest francophone, nous avons respecté notre tradition mondiale de recherche rigoureuse et applicable en renforçant les capacités fondamentales en recherche et en produisant des preuves pour réduire la pauvreté et atteindre les objectifs de développement durable (ODD). Les exemples ci-dessous de notre travail offrent un aperçu prometteur des questions critiques qui affectent la vie des plus vulnérables.
Almost half of all deaths of children under five years of age are attributable to malnutrition, and despite the decline in numbers, progress continues to be very slow. Malnutrition and under-nutrition, in particular, affect mainly households living in poverty. Recent research has shown that holistic livelihood programs can have a wide range of benefits for these poor families, from increasing household consumption and income to improving food security and mental health. This evaluation measured the impact of a multifaceted program on nutritional status, productive assets, and income. The program adapts the graduation approach, which combines a comprehensive set of interventions to enable ultra-poor households to develop sustainable livelihoods and resilience. It features a cash unconditional transfer, a productive investment (livestock or seeds), and a nutrition component (distribution of fortified flour), and nutrition education.
In a collective effort bringing together 15 studies, researchers from over 30 institutions surveyed over 20,000 individuals between June 2020 and January 2021 on questions regarding respondents’ vaccine acceptance and hesitancy and their most trusted sources for vaccination advice. During some surveys, results from COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials had yet to be announced, and during later surveys, governments had started approving vaccines for use. The fast-moving nature of COVID-19 information may change people’s perceptions about vaccines by the time they are widely available in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Over the past six months, the body of evidence demonstrating the safety and efficacy of available COVID-19 vaccines, which have been given to millions of people, has become clearer. At the same time, severe, but rare, side effects may have undermined public confidence.
Widespread acceptance of COVID-19 vaccines is crucial for achieving sufficient immunization coverage to end the global pandemic, yet few studies have investigated COVID-19 vaccination attitudes in lower-income countries, where large-scale vaccination is just beginning. We analyze COVID-19 vaccine acceptance across 15 survey samples covering 10 low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) in Asia, Africa and South America, Russia (an upper-middle-income country) and the United States, including a total of 44,260 individuals. We find considerably higher willingness to take a COVID-19 vaccine in our LMIC samples (mean 80.3%; median 78%; range 30.1 percentage points) compared with the United States (mean 64.6%) and Russia (mean 30.4%). Vaccine acceptance in LMICs is primarily explained by an interest in personal protection against COVID-19, while concern about side effects is the most common reason for hesitancy. Health workers are the most trusted sources of guidance about COVID-19 vaccines. Evidence from this sample of LMICs suggests that prioritizing vaccine distribution to the Global South should yield high returns in advancing global immunization coverage. Vaccination campaigns should focus on translating the high levels of stated acceptance into actual uptake. Messages highlighting vaccine efficacy and safety, delivered by healthcare workers, could be effective for addressing any remaining hesitancy in the analyzed LMICs.
Mass media reaches a large and growing share of the population in developing countries, but can it be used to tackle poverty and change behaviors, such as the adoption of modern contraception? Given the low marginal costs of mass media campaigns, even small effects could be highly cost-effective. IPA partnered with researchers and Development Media International to evaluate the impact and cost-effectiveness of an intensive, 2.5-year mass media radio campaign in Burkina Faso that promoted family planning and aimed to dispel myths and misinformation about modern contraception.
Mass media can spread information and disinformation, but its impact is hard to rigorously measure. Using a two-level randomized evaluation covering 5 million people, we test both exposure to mass media (with 1,500 women receiving radios) and the impact of a high-quality, intensive 2.5 year, family planning mass media campaign in Burkina Faso (8 of 16 local radio stations received the campaign). We find women who received a radio in noncampaign areas reduced contraception use by 5.2 percentage points (p=0.039) and had more conservative gender attitudes. In contrast, modern contraceptive use rose 5.9 percentage points (p=0.046) in campaign areas and 5.8 percentage points (p=0.030) among those given radios in campaign areas. Births fell 10%. The campaign changed beliefs about contraception but not preferences, and encouraged existing users to use more consistently. We estimate the nationwide campaign scale-up led to 225,000 additional women using modern contraception, at a cost of US$7.7 per additional user.